Temple men’s club soccer qualified for the regional playoff tournament for the first time in its history after winning the Philadelphia Division championship with a 9-1-0 record.
The Owls started out strong at the beginning of the season, outscoring opponents 29-0 in their first six games of the season before allowing a goal in their 2-1 victory against Salisbury University on Oct. 6.
“Making regionals and the division has been surreal,” said Dean Giovanopoulos, a senior finance major and team captain. “All the hard work we’ve done over the past few years building the team has paid off. I know it’s a huge achievement for everyone, but we’re not done yet.”
The team, which was led by students in the past, was missing guidance after garnering a losing record in 2018, Giovanopoulos added.
In 2018, the Owls started with a 4-0 record before losing 1-0 to Drexel club soccer on Oct. 3. Temple did not win another game the rest of the season, finishing 4-1-4 and falling short of a berth to the regional tournament.
Brandon Klein, who coached the Dragons’ club team for three years and held a perfect record against Temple, joined the Owls this season.
His first goal was to instill a culture in which players would treat the team, “like they would or a job or internship.”
The team also lacked “accountability and structure,” he added.
This season, practices had a clear start time, and players were required to provide their availability for practices and games ahead of time, Giovanopoulos said.
“Having a more strict system made sure our guys knew they couldn’t show up late or simply blow off practices,” Giovanopoulos added. “Now, we know we can plan our gameday roster and practices around people’s availability.”
The transition to Klein’s new system wasn’t smooth at first because some of the players were unhappy that practices were not student-led, Giovanopoulos said.
After the team’s success this season the players’ attitudes have changed, he added.
“Now that we have practiced and have seen immediate results, we have welcomed [Klein] with open arms,” Giovanopoulos said.
The Owls’ are scoring more goals this season, he added.
“This year, we are controlling the game from the very beginning, playing with high intensity throughout each match,” Giovanopoulos said. “We make the other team chase us, and we wear them down with our intensity and fitness.”
Midfielder Trevor Taylor, a freshman management information systems major, said the team had to adjust to their new coach.
“It took a little while to get comfortable with our coach,” Taylor said. “Now that everyone is more serious about our games and our results, we have no problems with [Klein].”